Mace blades are the outside covering of the nutmeg, which is often described as looking a bit like lace. Mace blades are the elements that interlock and protect the nutmeg from harm as it grows.
The blades are usually dried for use and can be everything from orange to a deep red in colour.
The nutmeg is a tropical evergreen tree, and the spice is made from its seed. The plant in its entirety is native to the Moluccas, or Spice Islands, in Indonesia.
It is mainly cultivated there and in the West Indies.
What Do Mace Blades Taste Like?
Mace differs from nutmeg because it has a sweet, earthy flavour with a mild peppery kick. It tastes much like nutmeg but is softer and more subtle in flavour and not quite as sweet.
It still carries the distinct overall flavours of nutmeg but with subtle notes of pine, black pepper, or citrus-like coriander.
The essential oils of mace blades and nutmeg have different chemical compositions, which are noticeably different when it comes to flavour, even though they come from the same plant.
Mace’s taste can also be described as that of cinnamon mixed with black pepper.
How to Use Mace Blades
Mace is a spice that can be toasted or ground.
It’s also sometimes called “blades from the nutmeg tree” because it falls off in spiky clusters like tiny blades of grass, which are then dried and used as one would use the whole nutmeg.
Mace blades have a sharper taste than its cousin-spice, so try using just half the amount you usually might when substituting for nutmeg if you’re unsure how well they’ll go together in your recipe.
You can use dried and ground mace as a topping for your coffee or latte, just as you would use nutmeg in the same way.
The mace blades will impart a natural and spicy depth to your hot drink. Adding a sprinkling of ground mace onto your coffee is the ultimate winter addition.
Blades of mace that have been dried and ground will work really well with sweet and creamy desserts, as the flavour counteracts the richness of dairy really well.
Try sprinkling on ice cream or use it in baked custard desserts such as Portuguese custard tarts for a warming and spicy note.
Mace blades work very well when combined with other spices such as cloves, ginger, cinnamon and even juniper berries.
A homemade barbecue spice rub would welcome mace blade as an addition.
The spice is also popular in Indian cuisine.
It can be used to flavour so many different dishes such as biryani, vindaloo, lamb Rogan josh, or chicken tikka masala.
Soups and Stews
The depth and warmth the mace blades give to any dish will work particularly well with hearty soups and stews, especially with the main ingredient of lamb or pork.
Pickles and Chutneys
Blade mace is particularly good when paired with the sharp notes of pickling solutions and sharp chutneys.
The chutneys with a sweet note, such as apple or fig, will work particularly well with mace blades, as will a pickling liquor.
How to Store Mace Blades
Mace blades are a healthy and nutritious food, but it has to be stored properly to maintain their freshness. Mace blades can quickly lose their potency and intensity, so proper storage is essential.
The way you store mace is the same in most forms:
Whole Mace Blades
Whole mace blades can be treated similarly to bay leaves; they come almost dried and can be stored the same, away from direct sunlight and away from moisture.
They should be used within a short space of time to ensure their properties remain entirely.
Ground Mace Blades
Ground mace will keep up to 6 months when stored in an airtight container out of sunlight and moisture without its protective sheath.
Ground mace blades can be used as a table condiment.
It has great versatility in all dishes that may benefit from them.
Mace blades do not expire but will lose their flavour over time. If the spice is left in your cupboard for years then it will become bland.
Substitutes for Mace Blades
When you don’t have mace blades, you can use these substitute ingredients in place of them:
- Nutmeg – One of the main types of spices, it has a sweet, nutty flavour similar to that of mace but slightly sweeter. The nutmeg seed is used in savoury dishes and baked goods such as apple sauce, pumpkin pie, or apple cakes.
- Cinnamon – Cinnamon is made from the bark of a tree called “Cinnamomum verum” or Ceylon cinnamon. It’s kind of like a mix between ginger and nutmeg – with undertones of cherry and orange peel. It has been used as medicine by many different cultures for centuries because it tastes great and offers incredible health benefits.
- Allspice – Allspice is a spice mixture that contains the dried, unripe berries of Pimenta dioica. This spice has a sweet, warm flavour similar to cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves mixed all together.
- Ginger – Ginger, which has a somewhat sweet and spicy flavour, is often used in dessert dishes and savoury ones. Ginger appears to have more effect on the taste buds than mace because it’s less sweet and spicier. You can use an equal quantity of ginger in your recipe that calls for mace if you’re looking for a more robust flavour with less sweetness.
- Garam Masala – The garam masala spice mixture adds a sweet, floral, and slightly spicy flavour to many dishes. You can substitute blade mace with an equal amount of garam masala in your recipe.
Where to Buy Mace Blades
Mace blades are particularly hard to get hold of. It can be found a little easier preground. If you’re struggling, try these places:
- Specialty Markets – Mace blades may be available at specialty markets where you would find lots of loose spices and herbs to buy in a specialty capacity. This is a rare spice, so it may be challenging to find.
- Health Food Stores – You may be able to find mace blades in health food stores; however, they may be found in a more speciality aisle in the supermarket.
- Online Retailers – Online retailers may be the best option to buy mace blades. You can find specialty merchants of the spice readily online; it is not an ingredient that every store will stock!
Mace Blade FAQs
If you’ve got other specific questions about mace blades and how to use them, then these might help:
One teaspoon of ground mace is roughly equal to one blade of mace. Remember, the longer you store ground mace, the milder its flavour will become so quantities will need to be changed accordingly.
It is an OK swap for mace blades but preground spices will never have the same potency and flavour as freshly ground spices.
Got more questions about mace blades? Then ask away in the comments section at the bottom of this page and we’ll help out as much as possible!
Stacy is a UK Based lifestyle writer who writes in the food and nutrition niches, as well as within the health and wellness sectors. She is a mum of 4 and married to a musician, so sustainability and a pinch of humour are absolutely essential to get over every one of life’s obstacles!